Monday | October 23, 2017
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Turkey, kalua-style

It was as if your own family was in the kitchen Wednesday preparing Thanksgiving Day dinner but there was no kibitzing or bickering — just the sharing of knowledge as well as camaraderie.

Tucked under tents with rain drizzling outside, dozens of Big Islanders shared tips, tricks and stories as well as traded goodies like homegrown sweet potatoes of all colors, taro leaves and breadfruit. Despite so many cooks in one kitchen at Amy B. H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Captain Cook, the overall spirit was one of fellowship and community.

“It’s such a celebration of the Hawaiian culture, and (it) brings the whole community together,” said Kathleen Abood, who prepared two turkeys with her husband, George. “The community is all in one place at the time when everyone wants to get together and give thanks. It’s a great experience of celebrating and sharing what we have.”

The Aboods were just two of the more than four dozen people who descended upon the Captain Cook garden to take part in the annual “Kalua Your Turkey” workshop. For $25, which benefits the garden, people prepared their thawed turkeys and wrapped them in ti leaf and chicken wire before the birds hit the imu, or earthen oven, for an eight-hour roast.

The result, the couple and others said, is an amazing, different type of turkey sure to please the crowd.

“It’s wonderful (and) it tastes out of this world,” said Mary Komen, who prepared her first turkey at the workshop two years ago. “The flavor is good, it’s so tender and so juicy, and you can’t mess it up.”

The workshop has been held at the garden for at least the past five to six years, said Peter Van Dyke, garden manager. The intent is to not only get people to the garden, but also to provide another island experience that people can take part in.

“People can have the fun of taking part in a traditional, cultural activity,” Van Dyke said, “and, the end result is a delicious turkey your family can have for dinner.”

Brad and Pam Hart prepared two turkeys at the event in order to have enough food for their family gathering as well as plenty of leftovers. The Kona residents have prepared their turkey in a variety of ways over the years, from smoking and grilling to frying and oven roasting, but were looking for a new taste, or tradition, to add to the repertoire.

“We love turkey and we love the imu because it provides such a lovely flavor,” said Pam about what drew the couple to the event. “We are foodies and we always love to think of different ways to use this meat.”